Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Update: Writing Quarter Take 1

I forgot how much querying a novel can suck the creativity out of a person. It's been a rough month for that. Although I will say that it hasn't been entirely in vain. I sent out 35 queries and have gotten 11 rejections and 1 full manuscript request in the last 30 days.

I've had to limit myself to checking query tracker once a day so I don't drive myself nuts wondering if/when I'll hear and what the response will be. It can really make a person crazy and keep one from being productive.

I did eventually get productive, though. I took my sweet time getting in to writing, managing about 1200 words the first couple days, although a third of that was brainstorming, then nothing for almost two weeks. But as per usual, the last two weeks I kicked into gear and managed to get all but the last scene written for SP 2.2. I finished that up this morning, so I'm calling it a win. And not counting the words I wrote this morning, I hit my 15k words (almost exactly) for April. Kicking off my writing quarter was a success.

I also did some brainstorming for Druid Wars book 2 and tweaked my 10-year writing plan. Which is basically a self-pub plan. Eventually I will need to revisit the idea of self-publishing, especially if the next few novels I query don't get me an agent or a book deal. I'm hitting snooze on making plans for that, but right now, I'm looking at aiming for 2026 to start publishing on my own (which will be when I hit 45, five years after my "get published by 40" goal passes me by).

I also reread and did a little poking at Dante Novels book 1, since the big news this month is that Tor is opening a horror imprint. Might be next up on the list starting next year, once I get Online Dating for Demons off my plate later this year.

But first, this month and next, I need to focus on finishing up Chain Letter Choice. I'd like to write another 30k-40k on it, and I have two months to do it. Yikes. I will say, though, once I got my SP adventure finished up, I started reading where I left off, and I'm exited to dive back into that world. Hang out with those characters. I'm even going to try the NaNo goal tracker, just to see how it works and if I like it better than myWriteClub and my own tracking spreadsheets.

I also finished Neil Gaiman Masterclass and have started on the James Patterson one. It's an interesting contrast as far as creativity versus craft. Gaiman was good for getting ideas brewing. Patterson has some interesting suggestions on the more mundane things like building plot and characters. Who knows, I might start outlining the next novel or two to see how that goes. If I ever want to be as prolific as him--and let's be honest, if I follow my self-pub plan, I'll have to be--that might be the best way to "manufacture" books for maximum income.

Which, by 45, is what I will probably be aiming for. Sad to say. But I should have quite the body of work to draw from, so I think it's sustainable for at least ten years. Which should be enough to keep me set to retire and have enough to get by until KPERs and Social Security kick in.

Anyway. The last thing of note is that all plans are made for Murdercon in August. Convention fees are paid. Hotel is reserved. Flights are booked. It's a lot of money to go to a con for a genre I've never really considered writing in before, but I think it'll be a good experience. I've never been to such a big con before, and I think even not writing thrillers/mysteries, I stand to learn a lot. I'll have to do a second post that month to tell all about it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April Update: Successful Editing Quarter

I'm going to take a minute to brag.

I edited the shit out of March. I got my intensive first edit of MystWatch 3 done within the first three weeks of March, got it out to beta readers, then I turned around and did a final proof of Druid Wars 1. I kicked so much ass, and I'm incredibly pleased with myself.

Not only that, I also managed to write a couple of short story snippets, thanks to the Neil Gaiman Masterclass, and brainstormed a couple of different future story ideas.

And then, I spent the first day of April doing a final edit on my query and putting together my first batch of agent queries. Those went out this morning.

It has begun.

The next several months will be a roller coaster ride of hope and rejections. I'm ready. I mean. Ish.

In the meantime, I need to shift focus. My editing quarter was a resounding success. And now, it's time to start my writing quarter. It may take me a few days to switch gears from editing to writing, which makes me glad I'm starting with SP. She makes for a good transition series. I'm all signed up for Camp Nano, and now that I've got about a week or two before I hear back from my first few queries, I have some time to be creative and stop thinking business.

I do want to think about craft for a minute, though. Neil Gaiman made me think about a lot of things I already know how to do and the things I need to work on. But someone also shared an article with the writing group that I found really interesting, and it got me thinking about my One Free Trick.

Basically, this writer says everyone gets one thing by default that they're really good at. The rest we have to learn to do better. I keep trying to figure out what my one thing is. Every time I think I have it narrowed, I trace it back to where I learned to do it, instead. So I've finally come down to, I'm good at putting characters in situations where there's going to evoke some emotional response from the reader.

I like to believe that I have the Plot Machine figured, but there was a long time I was bad at beginnings, middles, and ends. I think I have an instinctual feel for the shape of stories, so story structure comes pretty easily. I'm good at coming up with horrible things to happen to my characters to keep them from their wants and needs. And I've gotten good at subverting reader expectation, once Ted taught me how to do that. Dave taught me to do better dialogue. Dianne has taught me a lot about showing versus telling. Amanda helps me figure out where I've hit the emotional beat I meant to hit and where I missed. Jack gives me weird stuff I wouldn't have thought to include. Rachel gave me the confidence to keep writing what I love and put myself out there.

Yes, I had a few solid tricks when I first started writing, but it's been thanks to all of my friends (and family, too! My brother and sister are my biggest fans!) that have made me a better writer, and kept me writing even when things seemed bleak.

Anyway. I digress. I've just found it interesting to reflect on my process, and my journey as a writer. Especially since I'm trying to hard to take the next big step in that journey.

But for this month, I just need to write. Hopefully I can wrap up this next SP adventure. And then, over the rest of the quarter, finish up writing Chain Letter. And write another short story at some point. Here's hoping my writing quarter is as epic as my editing quarter! Really liking this goal system so far.

Friday, March 1, 2019

March Update: Moving Right Along

I had a productive month.

I have done All The Edits for Druid Wars except for a last copyedit/proofread. I also still need to polish the hell out of the first chapter or three to get it query ready. And I need to tweak my cover letter a little bit. But all of those things shouldn't take very long. I'm updating my agent query list so that by the end of this month, I should be ready to begin the query process. My top agent is still closed, though, so if I need to take some extra time, I can. I'm debating sending it off to one last beta reader even before the proofread to make sure I'm not missing anything. As kind of a final check. Even before I send it to my siblings.

Halfway through this whole process, I realized why it took me a year to dive into this. It's such an intensive process. I have to fully immerse myself in a world. I have to read and reread several times, look at it from every angle, and pick apart each scene and sometimes even sentence. It is hard work to edit a novel. It's even harder work to get a novel ready for querying. It's only the second book I've had to do this to. With MystWatch 2 and 3, I'm not going to do a line edit, a copy edit, and a proofread, as well as a crutch word pass. But those things need to be taken care of before I can send a book to an agent. Or, I suppose, if I were going to self-publish. Which, I've decided not to for the foreseeable future, so that's here nor there.

Anyway. A lot of the reason I dragged my feet on Druid Wars submission was because querying sucks. But it's also because I wasn't ready to breath, eat, and dream Druid Wars.

It's been different, though. With MystWatch, the more I read it, the more I love it. With Druid Wars, the more I read it, the less I love it. Rather than being discouraged by that, I'm actually heartened. Maybe querying won't be so brutal. I can take it less personally this time around. And as I mentioned, if I have to trunk this series, I will have fewer feelings about it.

That being said, I am not as fatigued as I'd expected to be after all that. And I'm not tired of the world. I even made some notes for book two. So I'm in a really good place with all that.

So now, of course, it's time to switch gears, and projects, to focus on finishing up my MystWatch trilogy. Time to edit book three. It took about four weeks over the course of two months to do about the same level of edits on Druid Wars that I want to get done on book three this month. And it's a longer book. So it may be tough to get it ready for beta readers before I hit the end of this quarter. But as long as I'm diligent, it should be close. Camp NaNo is next month, and I only need about 15k words to finish my current SP adventure, so I should have some time to finish it up, if I need.

One more month of editing, then I'll slide into a writing quarter. I'm nervous and excited. I've been thinking about Sally Prescott on and off the last month, so it'll be good to revisit her world soon.

In the meantime, I get to go back and visit all my MystWatch friends. I might even try to write the Shane short, since I did make a goal to write a short story each quarter. Although maybe I should consider writing a Druid Wars short. I decided which two I want to write. I don't necessarily have plots for both, though, so maybe it's better to wait. Also, there's no point in writing in-between-the-books shorts if the first book doesn't get picked up. I may anyway, just as an exercise, but I think my writing energies may be better spent focusing on other things.

At any rate. It's only been two months so far this year, but I'm happy with my pace and progress. Moving right along. Hopefully by the end of this month, MystWatch 3 will be ready for beta readers.